When we look back to 2015 the gaming landscape was in a state of flux, there were new innovations that were driven largely by market challenges. Here is our choice of the top 5 gaming trends of the year.
2015 was the year that gambling with bitcoins really took off. The number of sites that accepted the crypto-currency grew quite considerably, at the same time there was a greater understanding of the digital currencies from the general public as well as governments which meant that they were beginning to lose their “subversive” elements and became more widely accepted.
Several of the licensing jurisdictions all over the world are starting to recognize the role that Bitcoins play in the gaming sector and in 2016 we might see steps taken to regulate Bitcoin gaming.
In the past year the poker operator, Briyan Micon, was the first person who would be prosecuted because he was running an unlicensed Bitcoin gaming site. He has pleaded guilty in the Nevada court, he was sentenced and got probation plus a $25,000 fine.
Poker for the People
During 2015 there was a need for reclaiming poker for recreational players and was evident all over. There was an increase in the lower buy-in events resuliting in flatter pay-outs of the structures at the World Series of Poker, right to the decision some sites made to ban HUDs as well as other tracking software, there was a decided effort by the operators of focusing on amateur players in order to make poker more fun again.
Online poker has suffered from a paucity of recreational players. It was noted that the skills gap between the newer players and more experienced players has never been wider, this is thanks to player assistance software that allows good players to be able to multi-table at low stakes, which means that there were fewer new players who were coming into the game.
Full Tilt took drastic steps to ban the heads-up games as well as table selections completely. This was part of an effort towards eliminating the “bum-hunters,” that means the good players who actively look out for and then prey on weaker players.
PokerStars also did their bit by banned certain of the player-assistance programs , then they launched a series of low buy-in festivals which were aimed towards the casual players. This gaming mega giant then also unleashed a revised VIP program that is to kick in January 2016. This is designed to benefit the Average Joe player, and might very well leave the pros and grinders wishing for the good old days.
Land-based Skill Gaming
Nevada and New Jersey are eager to channel the what is called the “millennial” generation, which discourages the more traditional forms of gambling, they have embraced skill gaming. Both of the states amended the gaming laws during 2015 so that it can permit “variable payouts” machines and its expected that there will be an increased emergence of slot-video game hybrids through 2016.
The gaming law will usually dictate that the payout odds must be the identical for all the players, however, the variable payouts will in future allow for a better chances of winning, this is for players to be able to gain greater proficiency in a skill-based bonus, for example. This skill-based slot-video hybrid is a revolutionary addition on the casino floor.
Mergers and Acquisitions
There were regulatory challenges, taxes were higher, and a saturated market brought in a period of consolidation in the gaming industry in Europe when then brought in mergers and acquisitions with negotiations throughout 2015, the result of this was the creation of quite a few gambling superpowers to go into 2016.
The Bwin.party was acquired in a reverse takeover by GVC Holdings for $1.7 billion. Bookmakers Ladbrokes and the Gala Coral agreed to a merger creating a UK betting behemoth.
And the most the most intriguing deal was the Paddy Power and Betfair alliance, two of the largest online sports betting companies worldwide.
The Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)
In 2015 the Daily Fantasy Sports truly exploded. In this past year Amaya announced that they were going to jump on the bandwagon. DraftKings and FanDuel, two of the top sites, raised hundreds of millions of dollars of funding aiding their expansion and they promptly bombarded televisions in the USA with their wall-to-wall advertising.
This in turn prompted calls for the regulation of this emerging industry, and when the news broke in October that there might be insider trading creating a scandal, questions were then asked:
- How many of the sites employees were using knowledge gained to exploit the internal data to gain an edge over the public?
- Who was policing them?
Many suggested that DFS just a sports betting site in another guise and should therefore be regulated.
The industry responded quickly with some proactive self-regulation. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association created the Fantasy Sports Control Agency (FSCA),this is the organization that will be tasked to “create a strict, transparent and effective system that will self-regulate businesses that comprise the Daily Fantasy Sports.”